Thursday, October 17, 2013

Fourteen 5-minute videos: A class about a shoe (personalized and using a poem to include history, science, math, and language)

You can reach this playlist at

Part 1 of 14:  The students take turns reading the Bertoldt Brecht poem.

part 1 of 14  
This is the first of 14  5-minute videos from a recorded session in November 2005.

This will give you an indication of the direction that a single teacher can go to weave:
math (percent, statistics)

With some effort, a foreign language could be added.

Start with Bertoldt Brecht and a poem about a worker's work.

Here is the text... and it forms the core of the lesson / "advisory" session.
The teacher asks students to read the poem and then interpret the poem through the shoe.

Here is the text of the poem
A Worker Reads History
Who built the seven gates of Thebes?
The books are filled with names of kings.
Was it the kings who hauled the craggy blocks of stone?
And Babylon, so many times destroyed.
Who built the city up each time? In which of Lima's houses,
That city glittering with gold, lived those who built it?
In the evening when the Chinese wall was finished
Where did the masons go? Imperial Rome
Part 2 of 14  
Is full of arcs of triumph. Who reared them up? Over whom
Did the Caesars triumph? Byzantium lives in song.
Were all her dwellings palaces? And even in Atlantis of the legend
The night the seas rushed in,
The drowning men still bellowed for their slaves.

Young Alexander conquered India.
He alone?
Caesar beat the Gauls.
Was there not even a cook in his army?
Phillip of Spain wept as his fleet was sunk and destroyed. Were there no other tears?
Frederick the Great triumphed in the Seven Years War.
Who triumphed with him?

Each page a victory
At whose expense the victory ball?
Every ten years a great man,
Who paid the piper?

So many particulars.
So many questions. 

Steve Math Teacher

Here are the links to the next five videos.

Part 3 of 14:  Students describe details of the shoe
Part 2 of 14

Part 3 of 14
Students describe details of the shoe.

Part 4 of 14
Look at the poem and then look at the shoe differently.  Look at the shoe through the eyes of the poem's author.   "There are all of these other people involved in the process, why don't they get credit?"  So many questions...   Great things are built but only a few people get credit... 

Part 5 of 14

Part 6 of 14   "Read what you wrote"
Jordan gets the credit for the shoe but we don't know who the people are who made the shoe.

Part 7 of 14   Look at the labels in your t-shirts, your coats, your hats...

Part 8 of 14
Let's remove the map from the wall

7 of 14
look at labels on
your clothes

Part 9 of 14

Part 10 of 14    Students put pins on the map

Part 11 of 14   How did you figure that it was about 60 percent?

Part 12 of 14

Part 13 of 14
Video 14 of 14

At the end of the viewing, please write at least three things that you notice from each photo.

The entire 14-video playlist is available here

An additional reading:   Suggestions to Principals by S. McCrea

1 comment:

  1. These videos were taken in November 2005. They are part of an effort to spread awareness about the methods used at Big Picture Learning schools.

    You can learn more by visiting and


    Get the free chapters from the ebook at